See You At The Gabba, Mate
Famously quoted by the famous American writer Arthur Golden in Memoirs of a Geisha.
A wounded tiger is a dangerous beast.
Words appear to have lost their import forever in a world of belligerent posturing and frantic emojis. Nice. Great. Resilience, guy. Fighter, guy. It's rough. Character-defining characteristics tossed too much, too randomly, too loudly. But, once in a while, there comes a sun-soaked afternoon that shakes you from your stupor of irreverence, keeps you tight to the scruff of your neck, and wants you to believe—in miracles and grit, in scratching and pain, in the sinuous sensuality of struggle, in the sport itself. Words strung by way of alliteration but serve to describe an epic. An epic of breaching the unbreakable fortress of Gabba.
Such was the scenario 30 days ago that no one had ever expected Team India to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2020, let alone winning the series. After the catastrophic collapse in Adelaide, which saw Team India bundled out for 36 runs to a fierce Australian bowling attack, the team looked down and out and was staring at a 4-0 loss just like it had encountered in 2013. Adding salt to this devastating loss was the return of senior players like Virat Kohli, Md. Shami due to various injuries and personal reasons. The team losing the first match of the series in such a bad shape was disheartening for most fans and players.
With the Adelaide test done and dusted in 3 days, the media pounced on the Indian cricket team. Various so-called “Cricket Pundits” like Former Australian greats Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, and Steve Waugh, and Michael Vaughan criticized the team for being toothless without the presence of V.K and said the Team had its only chances of winning at Adeidaile and couldn’t rise to the occasion. But Team India rose from the ashes, even though a wounded phoenix managed its way to win the glory with incredible courage and hand Australia their first loss in 32 years at 'Fortress Gabba' to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in style.
After the horrible showing at Adelaide, most fans and pundits alike had written off a possible comeback from the Indian team. The team had to do a 180 on their earlier performance, and they did so in some fashion. The bowling attack led by Jaspit Bumrah demolished the Australian batting threat in both innings as the Aussies found it impossible to cope with the sheer ferocity of the Indian bowling attack. The batting display was a sight to watch as Rahane scored a stroke-filled century, and the useful contributions from Sir Jadeja, Pant, and Gill well complemented his batting masterclass. The performance also showcased the team's newbies' quality, like Mohammad Siraj and Shubhman Gill, who will carry the mantle for several years to come.
The prodigious bowing performance coupled with the able batting performance meant that the Indian team won the boxing day affair at the historic MCG in just four days. The cricket pundits who had predicted otherwise had no option but to eat their words. The landmark win helped reinstill the hopes of billions around the globe in the team as it marched on.
TEST 3-STANDING FIRM
On day 3 of the Series, where the Indian team struggled to walk through after their two-star batsman got out earlier the pressure, came down to youngsters but Chasing a herculean target of 407, Pant (97 off 118 balls), and the ever-steady Cheteshwar Pujara (77 off 205 balls) produced an amazing 148-run stand before India was forced to down the shutters finishing on 334 for 5 in 131 overs when players shook hands, ending the match in a draw. But the hero of the match was a resolute Ravichandran Ashwin and a hamstrung Hanuma.
One of the moments when Australians gave up on the spirit of cricket, which backfired them later was when Ashwin was involved in a feisty match-saving partnership with Hanuma Vihari on the final day of the third Test, Paine had told the spin spearhead:
I can’t wait to get you to the Gabba, Ash I’ll tell you what, woo hoo.
Not the one to back down, Ashwin had hit back at the wicketkeeper by telling him:
Just like we want to get you to India, that will be your last series.
The sledging concluded on a nasty note with Paine abusing the India spin spearhead.
Vihari battled pain and a hostile Australian bowling attack while displaying the largely extinct art of Test-saving batsmanship to snatch a remarkable draw for India after Rishabh Pant raised visions of an improbable win. Facing all the racist slurs, physical exertion, and excruciating sledgings, they mark the test as one of the best test matches the world has ever witnessed, standing in for 5 days for 131 overs and landing the match as a draw.
TEST 4- THE KNOCKOUT BLOW
The Gabba was all set for the ultimate showdown in what had been a gruelling tour for everyone involved. Coming off the backs of a spirited draw at the SCG, the Indian team had one last obstacle to overcome: The Gabba Fortress. The Gabba, bastion of the Australian cricket team, had not been conquered since 1988. This fortification was the reason for Tim Paine's overconfidence in his team's chances during his altercation with Ravi Ashwin.
The Aussies had to back their talk up, and The Indians were keen to put a final nail in the coffin to achieve the unthinkable. Naturally, the stakes were sky-high, and the buildup to this match was incredibly tense, with disgraceful topics like Racism and Sledging taking the centre spot.
The Indian team's backbones, namely, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashwin, and Sir Jadeja, were all left out of the team due to injuries sustained in the previous encounter. As a result, a bowling attack with a combined experience of four tests was tasked with the uphill battle of taking it to a mighty Aussie batting unit that could take this attack to the cleaners on their best day.
With the odds heavily stacked against them, the bowling unit did a terrific job at picking up wickets at regular intervals and restricting the Aussies to a first-innings total of a not so gargantuan 369. In response, most Indian batsmen got off to a good start but failed to capitalize. When all hope seemed lost, Sundar and Thakur's unexpected duo joined hands to put up an incredible 123 run partnership that stupefied every spectator. Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar didn't just hold their own against the Australian bowling attack but instead took the attacking approach and smashed them all over the fortress. Their brave partnership crushed the Aussie bowling unit's spirits and helped the team post a fighting total. After the intense drama of the previous innings, we were treated to a fast-bowling masterclass of the good ol' days by Mohammad Siraj and Shardul Thakur, who struck at the very heart of the Australian batting and bowled them out for a modest 294, thereby setting a target of 324 for the visitors.
The target might not have been much of an issue at any other stadium/weather conditions. However, with rain pouring in, resulting in the early cancellation of the fourth day's play and Aussie's impeccable record at Gabba, chasing the target within a day's play seemed next to impossible.
Ravi Shastri, the Indian team coach, tried to breathe confidence into the players before the final day; day, and it clearly worked.
Today is the last day of the tour. When we cross the boundary lines, this India badge… don't forget it. You are playing for India; put your life on the line [jaan Laga do]. It's the last day, give it everything. After that, whatever happens, happens
The Indian team was 4/0 at stumps on day four and needed 324 runs from 98 overs to win the Test. What followed suit was reminiscent of a modern-day David v Goliath tale. Despite the odds stacked against him, David took his time and then, at an opportune moment, landed a fierce blow to conquer the mighty Goliath. Team India did the same by following a very calculative approach at the very beginning and then going all-in at the very end.
The finesse and the masterful strokeplay on show from Gill reminded everyone of a young opener from Najafgarh and laid the foundation for a historic chase. Cheteswar Pujara, the very embodiment of resilience, was battered and bruised but still came up with a solid half-century to put India in the driving seat. Defending had never looked classier. Rishabh Pant, the very prodigy who had been criticized for his reckless gameplay, was ironically the one who held the responsibility to see the chase through. The Indian dressing-room wasn't the only place where many Indians felt the shivers while Pant held court at the Gabba. In one of the most calculatedly daring assaults on the best bowling attack in the world, the 23-year-old was not just laying siege to Australia's fortress; he was creating history. And as Pant drove Josh Hazlewood towards the mid-off boundary past the shadows of the mighty Gabba, the moment had finally arrived.
Team India had conquered the fortress and made history. The curtain had finally dropped on one of the most astonishing comebacks ever witnessed on a sporting field.
The significance of this series win stretches way beyond the boundaries of the game. It gave us something to root for and served as a welcome distraction from the tragedy caused by the pandemic. It showed us the very highs and lows of life between Adelaide's tragic defeat and the historic win at the Gabba. It motivated us never to quit and work towards our dream, no matter how dire the circumstances might get.
Sorry Covid,you can’t stop cricket. This is the ultimate blockbuster.
-Mr. Harsha Bhogle
In a country divided by religious feuds and discrimination, cricket is what moulds people from all walks of life into one. Cricket is more than a game; it is an emotion.